Insiders: it’s Friday, you’re hungry for a recap of big international film and TV news and I’ve got a pot of stories boiling on the hob. Jesse Whittock here dishing up the scoops of the week.
Amazon Freevee Rescues ‘Neighbours’
“With a little understanding/You can find the perfect blend…”: So goes the Neighbours theme that has been in living rooms (mainly Australian and British ones) for the past 37 years. When the show’s British backer, Channel 5, announced it was pulling its funding to focus on other types of programs over the summer, it certainly felt like the end of an era — the fact Margot Robbie, Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce returned for the finale episode shows just how deeply loved it was among its former stars and audiences alike. But sources at Fremantle, the show’s maker and distributor, were always quietly confident they’d find a fresh, ahem, ‘perfect blend’ — aka new funder — for the show. We heard last month there was likely to be a deal on the table at some point, though at the time there was no indication the buyer was Amazon Freevee. We now hear a deal had been gently bubbling away for a few months. Yesterday’s news revealed the free streamer had cut an innovative deal with Fremantle, taking first run rights to the daily soap in the UK and U.S., with its paid-for cousin Prime Video picking up Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Network 10 has long had the show in Australia and had no desire to see it end earlier this year so it retains first runs in the country, with Prime Video going second. Not only that, but Freevee has picked up the Neighbours library, meaning viewers can amuse themselves with the fictitious bizarro world of Erinsborough all day long. Though the plots are full of chaos and acrimony, some stories do have happy endings. Find more here.
Poland’s Camerimage In Focus
On Torun with Sam and Baz: We cut to Zac Ntim, reporting from Poland… The quaint Polish city of Torun once again opened its arms to Hollywood as the 30th Camerimage film festival kicked off last Saturday with a lengthy and star-studded ceremony featuring a tribute to Sam Mendes. The American Beauty filmmaker was handed the festival’s Krzysztof Kieslowski lifetime achievement award on the night. He used his acceptance speech to pay tribute to the cinematographers he has worked with throughout his career and express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Mendes said he found it “difficult to speak of celebration” after witnessing the speeches of two Ukrainian activists at the start of the ceremony. Russia’s invasion across the border has hung over much of the proceedings in Torun and hit an apex Tuesday after reports that a missile described as “Russian-made” by Polish officials had hit the country. The Polish PM, Mateusz Morawiecki, later said the missile was likely the result of an “unfortunate accident” by Ukrainian air defence forces. At the time, Deadline was on the road with Elvis filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, who arrived in Torun to hold a series of masterclasses and present a special screening of his music biopic. During his time with Deadline, Luhrmann revealed some of the technical tricks behind his film and killed online rumours that a four-cut of Elvis was on the way. “There is no such thing as the four-hour cut. It’s a four-hour director’s assembly, and that just means we put all the stuff together,” he said. You can check out the full interview here. Camerimage runs through November 19.
Joy For ‘Joyland’
“Freedom of speech is fundamental”: It’s been a rollercaster ride for Joyland, Pakistan’s Best International Feature Award nominee at next year’s Oscars. Over the weekend, the country’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned Saim Sadiq’s film, which is about Pakistani family whose youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls in love with a trans woman. Sadiq called the move, which had been okayed by censors, “a sudden u-turn” and “unconstitutional” – based on the concept Pakistani provinces have their own autonomy to decide such matters themselves. This had all followed a series of Instagram Stories shared by fashion designer Maria Butt that claimed the film contravened both Islamic and Pakistani social values and led to a #BanJoyland hashtag circulating. Next, our Asia Editor Liz Shackleton revealed the feature would get a one-week run in France via distributor Condor Films later this month, to ensure it would still quality as an Oscar contender. Still with me? Good, we’re not done yet. Yesterday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting screeched into another u-turn, this time deciding the film was cleared for release, albeit with some minor cuts. Salman Sufi, Head of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms, later tweeted: “Freedom of speech is [a] fundamental right & should be nourished within ambits of the law.” Seems like the film, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in Cannes earlier this year, can now focus on building its profile as Oscar season builds up steam. Follow the breathless story here.
Controversy Mounts As Qatar World Cup Looms
Fandemonium: Last week, our story on the moral maze facing broadcasters, sponsors and pundits heading to the controversial FIFA World Cup in Qatar highlighted the dark backdrop to the tournament: human rights abuses, draconian LGBTQ+ laws and migrant worker deaths. This week, all of those issues reared their heads but events took a turn for the weird and surreal. A huge online debate broke out as TikTok videos emerged of locals wearing England, Brazil and Argentina shirts and cheering in a somewhat robotic, potentially choreographed manner. Many believed they’d been paid to promote the tournament and generate good PR just as players, managers and pundits began more vocally voicing their concerns about worker welfare and human rights. The Qatari soccer Supreme Committee, however, rubbished the reports and said the fans were legitimate — and according to journalists on the ground that could well be true. Even so, I’m from England, probably the soccer world’s most hated nation, so to hear an Indian man enthusiastically shouting that England manager Gareth Southgate “is our super coach!” just feels incomprehensible. Who knows the truth? There were darker moments: Qatari security threatened to break the cameras of a Danish TV2 channel broadcasting live for no apparent reason, female migrant workers spoke out on the harassment they’ve been experiencing and calls for FIFA to match prize money compensation for workers are growing louder but remain ignored. Click here to go deeper.
Shred of decency: Soccer superstar David Beckham’s reputation continued to take a beating over his ambassador role for the tournament. Most eyes will be drawn to the opening ceremony on Sunday on channels around the world, but many others others will be streaming British presenter and comedian Joe Lycett. He has claimed he will live-stream himself shredding £10,000 ($11,800) if Beckham, usually considered a strong supporter of gay rights, does not relinquish his post working for a country where homosexuality is illegal. You can question the wisdom of destroying money in the economic climate where recession is setting in, but it makes for an intriguing sub-plot all the same. Nancy’s original story is here.
Moroccan roll: Next, we join Melanie Goodfellow in North Africa… Morocco’s Marrakech International Film Festival has been enjoying a successful comeback 19th edition this week after a three-year pandemic hiatus. Long-time director Mélita Toscan du Plantier and artistic director Rémi Bonhomme delivered the festival’s trademark mix of a big-name jury – featuring Paolo Sorrentino, Vanessa Kirby, Diane Kruger, Justin Kurzel, Nadine Labaki, Laïla Marrakchi and Tahar Rahim this year – with a line-up showcasing buzzy first and second time works, Moroccan cinema and festival favorites from across 2022. Indian mega-star Ranveer Singh got the event off to an electric start last Friday, bounding onto the stage at the gala opening to receive the festival’s Etoile d’Or award, before heading off to Marrakech’s landmark Jemaa El Fna Square to meet with the Moroccan public. Jim Jarmusch, Julia Ducournau, Leos Carax, Paul Schrader and Isabelle Huppert were also among those hitting the red carpet. “It’s been a joyful reunion,” Bonhomme told Deadline mid-way through festival. “We’ve had great numbers, with the gala screening pulling in 800 to 1,200 a night and a 3,500 crowd on Jemaa El Fna on Saturday for the comedy Daddy Or Mommy.” For more on Marrakech, go deeper here.
🌶️ Hot One: Baz learned Oscar-winning film The Artist is being remade as a stage play.
🌶️ Another One: BBC and A24 get to work on TV adaptation of Stuart Douglas’ novel Shuggie Bain.
🌶️ Very, very spicy: Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay to star in Sam Mendes’ theatre production The Lehman Trilogy as it returns to London.
🎦 Trailer: Denise Petski with an exclusive look at Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show (Chhello Show), Indian’s official Best International Feature Oscars entry.
🇮🇳 Sequel: For Indian megahit movie RRR, as confirmed by director S.S. Rajamouli this week.
🤝 Done deal: Newen Studios snapped up Vanessa Djian’s Daï-Daï Films.
🤝 More deals: Buzzy docs Nothing Lasts Forever and Midwives shop on the first day of Amsterdam’s IDFA, as per Zac’s scoop.
🤝 One more: Tomas Kaan, director of Netflix’s Human Playground and Dirty Lines, has signed an exclusive agreement with Benelux-based Scenery.
🇬🇧 Brit List: Issy Knowles’ comedy-drama Model Behaviour tops list of hot unsigned series and feature scripts.
🤑 For Sale: Yellowjackets maker eOne, after parent Hasbro decided to focus on entertainment content based on its core brands. Jill Goldsmith with this.